I have been frantically trying to preserve a lot of elderflowers. Last weekend, the Big Guy and I went out picking elderflowers and rose petals.
I greedily decided to try a second champagne recipe, and went off picking without really reading how much I would need. The recipe I chose to use required far less than I had imagined, so I had a lot leftover. Of course, not being one to waste them, I have lots of recipes to share in the next few days. I’m waiting for some of them to finish brewing.
However, if you are going to be able to take advantage of these this year, you can still find some flower bracts now, but we are definitely coming towards the end of their display, at least here in the Netherlands. Go out and get some, and keep them in the fridge for some of the elderflower recipes to follow.
The simplest thing to do to preserve the flavour of these short-lived but beautiful flowers is to infuse sugar with them, in a similar way to the vanilla sugar that makes the use of high quality vanilla beans worthwhile.
The elderflower sugar keeps well and is a lovely reminder of the early summer when the flowers are in full bloom. You can use it in cakes, biscuits and many other things, and I will be experimenting with some baking in the coming weeks. If you only have enough elderflowers for one more thing, this is the stepping-stone recipe you should probably make.
And this is how you do it:
Get a large glass jar with a lid. The amount of flower bracts that you will need will be determined by the size of the jar.
Pick through elderflower heads, and remove any brown flowers or bits. Remove the flowers from their stalks. This is easily done, by gripping the stalk between your thumb and forefinger, and pushing them down to the flowers. They will pop off with very little pressure.
You need to keep as much of the pollen as possible, because that is where the flavour is, so try to get the blooms in the jar as you strip them from the stalks.
Keep going until you have filled about a quarter of the jar. Top up the rest with the sugar, give it a stir and leave it to infuse for at least 3-4 days.
Sieve out the flowers before use.